The first humans to reach Cuba arrived from South America, Central America, and North America in a complex series of migrations as long as 8,000 years ago. The topside has iridescent blue or mauve colouring. Location: Russia, … This eagle-owl is a resident primarily of dry, wooded savanna. Close-ups of the face and the "eyespot." Long ago, Cuba was home to a unique collection of animals that evolved from North American and South American immigrants. The two most encountered species in Butterfly Houses are the Giant Forest Owl, Caligo eurilochus above left, and the (Giant) Pale Owl, Caligo memnon above right, both from Central America. The youngest remains of the giant owl are around 8,000 years old, and it is very unlikely that a large, cursorial bird could have persisted for anything more than a couple of centuries after humans reached Cuba. The remains of this bird were first discovered in Cueva de Pio Domingo in western Cuba, and it was thought, initially, that they belonged to a Cuban species of terror bird because of their size. Ground-dwelling birds that have evolved on isolated islands have absolutely no defense against humans. Journal of Paleontology 35 (1961): 633-35. Although the islands of Cuba have quite a large land area, the giant owl, as top predator, could never have existed in huge numbers. Wingspan: 6.5 feet. This odd, nocturnal, burrowing creature, one of the few venomous mammals, is a reminder of the days when Cuba was populated by odd animals, creatures which evolved in isolation on these tropical Caribbean islands (see the entry for Marcano's solenodon in chapter 3). The remains of this bird have only been found in Cuba. The genus name. Even if it could have reached a tree hole, there were probably few of a sufficient size to accommodate its large body. It is thought that this giant owl became extinct around 8,000 years ago. Because of its size and because Cuba was free of large mammalian predators, the Cuban giant owl may have switched from a nocturnal lifestyle to a … These people, known to anthropologists as the Taino and Ciboney, took up residence and practiced hunter-gathering and agriculture. Like other ground-dwelling birds, the Cuban giant was probably an accomplished runner, and it very likely ran its quarry down before dispatching it with its powerful talons and beak. The only option was a nest on the ground or in a burrow, and fortunately, there were few, if any, Cuban animals to prey on the eggs and young of the giant owl. The two eagle owl species, (Bubo bubo and Bubo blakis-toni), are the largest living owls and can reach a weight of around 4.5 kg. ♦ A very unusual and extremely rare animal called the "Cuban solenodon" (Solenodon cubanus) still manages to cling to survival on these Caribbean islands, but since its discovery in 1861, only 37 specimens have been caught. Today around 220 owls species are recognized and zoologists separate them into two groups: the typical owls and the relatively long-legged and highly nocturnal barn owls. Blakiston’s Fish Owl – (Bubo blakistoni) Weight: 6-8.8 pounds. Cuban Giant Owl—The ground-dwelling Cuban giant owl stood about 1 m high, dwarfing most modern owls. The two most encountered species in Butterfly Houses are the Giant Forest Owl. The presence of two giant birds guarding the nest must have been more than enough to discourage even a hungry opportunist. The Cuban owl was probably double this weight. In terms of size, the giant owl was far in excess of any living owl. The Cuban owl was probably double this weight. In terms of size, the giant owl was far in excess of any living owl. Human hunting as well as habitat destruction must have decimated the populations of this bird, and the animals the humans brought with them made short work of the eggs and nestlings of this amazing owl. For most owls, the day begins when the sun goes down, when they leave their daytime retreats to hunt their prey. Their senses of sight and hearing are acute, and their wing beat is muffled by the soft bar-bule tips on the leading edge of the flight feathers, which dampen air noise during flight. The two eagle owl species, (Bubo bubo and Bubo blakis-toni), are the largest living owls and can reach a weight of around 4.5 kg. The prehistoric Cuba must have been a paradise, but once again, humans arrived, bringing with them devastation and extinction. A member of the genus Bubo, it is the largest African owl, measuring up to 66 cm (26 in) in total length. The bones clearly belonged to a large bird that spent most of its time on the ground. Much like a turkey, the giant owl was probably capable of short, feeble flights when threatened, but its long legs and large feet suggest that it preferred stalking around at ground level.

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